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Retail Theft Crackdown: Broome County DA Will Enforce Heavier Penalties For Repeat Offenders

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BROOME COUNTY, N.Y. -

November is a busy season for stores, and also for law enforcement. Retail theft numbers spike in Broome County during the month of November, according to the District Attorney's Office. That's why DA Stephen Cornwell is introducing a new initiative. DA investigators will be working with retailers to crack down on shoplifting during the holiday shopping season.

In 2017, there were over 1,000 petit larceny arrests in Broome County according to Cornwell's office. More than 150 of those were in November.

"I want to be proactive, not reactive, so I don't want to wait for the call to come in that there's been this increase in petit larceny. We're going to send out investigators to these retailers. They're going to be there, they're going to be visible," says Cornwell.

Those investigators will work with store security teams to go over the measures that are in place. There will also be a harsher penalty for repeat offenders.

"It's not going to be a slap on the wrist petit larceny, if they can't get with the rules, they can't get with the program, they continue to be a menace and a nuisance and steal from people, well now it's going to be a felony burglary," says Cornwell.

For local law enforcement, petit larceny is a significant issue, and one that Johnson City Police Chief Brent Dodge says can detain his officers when they have plenty of other issues to deal with for residents. In the village, officers have a few major retail establishments to respond to, including the Oakdale Mall and WalMart.

"On a busy day, when we're experiencing a lot of those types of calls, our officers can just keep going back and forth from retailer to retailer, covering larceny after larceny," says Dodge, "We do have days like that where it's substantial and if they're in a store trying to process a shoplifter, they're not in the neighborhoods trying to police that neighborhood and improve quality of life in some of those vulnerable neighborhoods that we want to focus on."

Cornwell says his hope is to get out ahead of things and limit the amount of calls local police agencies will need to respond to.